Richard Hughes and the championship trophyRichard Hughes will be moving away from his Marlborough home (well, Collingbourne Ducis really) sooner than planned - he wants to get started as a trainer this autumn. Yet he still wants to be champion jockey - for the fourth year running.
In his Racing Post column (Friday, June 26), Hughes revealed he had completed his formal training to become a trainer, his yard just over the border at Danebury in Hampshire was ready and he was looking forward to buying his first horses at the July sales: "I cannot allow my training career to be jeopardised by my championship ambitions."
Hughes is currently on 37 winners for this flat race season. That puts him level with Silvestre de Sousa. But Ryan Moore is ahead with 47 victories.
Following his Racing Post column, Richard Hughes is no longer odds on to win the championship. He is now a 5-1 chance.
"The truth is, I absolutely cannot wait to train. I had thought I would aim to kick off next year, but my thinking has changed and my ambition is to saddle my first runners in September or October." He stresses he is still a committed jockey - and wants to win the championship: "...I'll continue to give 100 per cent to every horse I ride."
Hughes will be training on the site of Stockbridge racecourse. This has a long and formidable history - but it is pretty ancient history.
The racecourse closed in 1898. You can still see a small reminder of the abandoned Victorian stand which burnt down some decades ago. Racehorses have been trained at Danebury for many years - its stables boast a Derby and a Grand National winner. Though the Derby winner was Andover in 1836 and the Grand National winner was Playfair in 1888.
Hughes will be taking over Ken Cunningham-Brown's Danebury yard: "Ken would love nothing more than for Danebury to get back on the map and to one day rival Manton - and it could, because it really is that good."
It has 300 acres of grass gallops, a one-mile peat gallop, a one-mile woodchip, a round half-mile sand gallop and a five-furlong straight gallop going through the woods.
Richard Hughes already has promises from several owners that they will send horses to him. He rounded off his column: "I hope you can tell how eager and excited I am. I love being a jockey, but I know I will love being a trainer every bit as much."
The Burghley top three: Jonelle Price, Andrew Nicholson & Christopher Burton (Photo from Burghley twitter feed) The last day (Sunday, September 4) of the prestigious Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials was a bumper day for antipodean event riders based in Britain.
Australian Christopher Burton - with Nobilis 18 - won the event by a margin of five points. A margin that survived clocking up 16 faults in the final show jumping stage of the competition.
In second place came Lockeridge-based Andrew Nicholson (Nereo), with Jonelle Price (Classic Moet) in third and her husband, Tim Price (Ringwood Skyboy) in fourth. The Prices are based at Mildenhall.
Tim Price's twelve faults in the show jumping ring proved costly - putting him down from second place to fourth. Tim Price also took twenty-first place with Bango.
The rest of the top ten places included two more New Zealand riders (Caroline Powell and Sir Mark Todd - placed eighth and ninth), two British riders (Oliver Townend and Kristina Cook - placed seventh and tenth), with French rider Cedric Lyard fifth and Germany's Bettina Hoy sixth.
Belardo winning the Lockinge Stakes (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)Before a record crowd, in brilliant sunshine and with the ground drying all afternoon, Godolphin took Newbury's biggest flat race prize on Saturday (May 14) - the Class One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes - with a brilliant run by Belardo under Andrea Atzeni.
Belardo was an eight-to-one chance for the race on Newbury's straight mile. In the words of an expert he "...messed up the start" veering left as he left the stalls. But the ground - good, good to soft in places - seems to have suited him well.
Afterwards his trainer, Roger Varian told reporters: "Belardo has got a very good turn of foot and is a talented horse - he's shown that today...We'll stick to the big mile races and hopefully this is just the start."
The fancied Kodi Bear only managed seventh place in the twelve strong field. For the Racing Post David Orton described his race as 'puzzling': "He didn't look happy under pressure and was held prior to being tight for room." Perhaps he just did not like the fast-drying ground.
In three other races on Newbury's Lockinge Day card, local trainers took the honours.
In the first race Mehmas - trained by Richard Hannon in Marlborough (East Everleigh) - was ridden home by Frankie Detttori for a three-and-a-quarter length win over the seven finishers. And Dettori obliged with one of his winner's enclosure leaps from the saddle.
Andrea Atzeni with the cup - Roger Varian at left Frankie's flying dismount from Mehmas Richard Hannon talks reporters through his win in the Toronado
The Hannon yard made it a double when Godolphin owned Log Out Island won the six furlong Toronado Carnarvon Stakes - another three-and-a-quarter length victory.
The five-year-old Ayrad, trained by Roger Charlton at Beckhampton, had come second in the one-and-a-half-mile Al Rayyan Stakes., but a later race gave the Beckhampton trainer a fine win.
The one mile and two furlong Al Zubarah London Gold Cup is often seen as setting patterns for the rest of the season. Charlton trained horses have won this race twice in recent years - the great Al Kazeem in 2011 and last year Time Test.
Imperial Aviator before the race Beckhampton's Imperial Aviator - carrying the Qatar Racing silks for the first time - stormed home under Oisin Murphy to a four-and-a-half length victory.
Charlton was impressed with the colt: "I wouldn't compare Imperial Aviator with previous horses, but every time he he's run he's improved."
Three weeks before Imperial Aviator had beaten possible Derby contender Ulysses in a competitive maiden stakes at Leicester. Now he is probably heading to the Tercentenary Stakes at Ascot - following the path of Time Test who won that race last year.
The weather has not been kind to Newbury so far this season - with one meeting lost to the rain.
The course having been 'good to firm' early in the week, Newbury Racecourse staff suffered a nervy few days - the rain kept coming leaving the course 'heavy in places'.
At one point after 35 millimetres of rain in twenty-four hours, it looked as they might even lose Friday's card. But the ground was drying out all day on Saturday - ending up 'Good (good to soft in places)'.
Lizzie Kelly in her mother's racing colours - at Newbury earlier in 2015Conditional jockey Lizzie Kelly, who works full-time for trainer Neil King at his Burderop yard near Barbury Castle, made racing history on Saturday (December 26) becoming the first woman jockey to win a British Grade One jumps race.
She brought Tea for Two home to win the three mile Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton by four lengths. The six year-old bay gelding is trained by her step-father Nick Williams and owned by her mother Jane Williams with Len Jakeman.
Kelly, who is 22 years-old, has been riding Tea for Tea in races since April 2013 - a total of fourteen outings. Her first race on Tea for Two was a National Hunt Flat Race at Wincanton which she won by one-and-a-half lengths.
After the race she told Channel 4 Racing "I'm delighted to do it on this horse. He showed what he is worth today." Channel 4 Racing's Gina Harding tweeted: "What a treat to interview Lizzie Kelly making history as the 1st Lady jockey to win a Grade 1 over jumps. What an achievement." To which Lizzie Kelly replied: "Thank you!"
Recently retired jockey Hayley Turner tweeted: "Wow...no steering job. Take a bow." Lizzie Kelly's mother stressed that Tea for Two is no easy ride and commentators praised the race Kelly rode.
The pair had won in great style at Exeter over two miles and three furlongs earlier in the month - Tea for Two's chase debut.
The appearance of Tea for Two in Saturday's prestigious race had been planned for a long time - and Lizzie Kelly said she has warned her boss (Neil King) long ago that she could not ride any of his Boxing Day entries.
Kelly told Channel 4 Racing that she could not go out celebrating on Saturday night as she would be back at Kempton on Sunday with two rides. But what are the odds of the pair returning to Kempton next year for the King George VI chase?
Lizzie Kelly leads out Golden Thread at Neil King's Open Day last September
Tim Price & Ringwood Sky Boy at BurghleyMildenhall-based New Zealand eventer Tim Price has finished second behind world number one Michael Jung at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (ending Sunday, September 6).
In a nail-biting finish, Price and Ringwood Sky Boy went clear in the crucial show-jumping phase, finishing on 41.5 penalty points, but Jung (Germany), the reigning Olympic and European champion, and La Biosthetique Sam FW were also faultless, taking the title on 40 points.
It was all a little déjà vu for Price, who was second to Jung at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in April, albeit riding a different horse.
Jonelle Price and Classic Moet were unlucky to have four faults in the show-jumping to slip from third to fifth place. Other locally-based New Zealanders Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II left everything in place to move up to sixth and Jock Paget and Shady Grey took down a rail to finish in 16th.
Christopher Burton (Australia) finished on a high, taking third and fourth places with his horses TS Jamaimo and Haruzac.
Tim and Ringwood Sky Boy go clearBut it was a good day all round for Tim Price, as well as £46,000 pounds as runners-up, his horse won the Worshipful Company of Farriers’ Best Shod Horse Award and a $5,000 bonus prize.
“He has been a horse who has been coming along all the time but never been able to produce it in the ring at this level, so obviously I am delighted with him,” Price said. “It is such a great achievement. We almost got the little fella from Germany . . . next time."
“The horse has excelled in all three phases. I have always said he has a couple of good days in him at this level. He is not going to be one of these out and out champion horses because of the type he is . . . but I do believe in him in all three phases.”
Jonelle Price was philosophical about her fifth place finish: “It was a good round. She jumped really well,” she said of Classic Moet. “Maybe I was a little bit close to the first of the treble . . . but overall, three great phases. Fifth place – I can’t complain.”
the dressage and cross country.
Results - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (final):
1. Michael Jung (GER) La Biosthetique Sam FW 40,
2. Tim Price (NZL) Ringwood Sky Boy 41.5,
3. Christopher Burton (AUS) TS Jamaimo 45,
4. Christopher Burton (AUS) Haruzac 47.6,
5. Jonelle Price (NZL) Classic Moet 48.9,
6. Sir Mark Todd (NZL) Leonidas II 50.5
July 2016: Paul Tapner at Barbury with Yogi Bear VIIIAustralian eventer Paul Tapner, who is based at Wickstead Farm Equestrian Centre in Highworth, leads Event Rider Masters - the new high value, high visibility eventing competition - as it moves to Blair Castle in Perthshire this weekend (27 & 28 August) for its last but one round.
The ultimate winner of the inaugural season of the Event Rider Masters (ERM) will take home a £30,000 prize in addition to the substantial prize for each round.
Paul Tapner Tapner was second in the Barbury ERM round and has finished no lower than twelfth place in the four rounds completed so far. He has a commanding lead with 87 points. He took the lead from Gemma Tattersall who missed the Gatcombe round as she was with the British team in Rio.
Tapner will be riding the grey Kilronan - and this may be their last competition together: "I’m hoping the softer ground and galloping course at Blair will suit Kilronan. He is returning to his roots as he started competing in Scotland for what might be his final competition."
"He has been such a wonderful horse and I hope the weekend is a success for him and I am also able to hold onto the lead in the Event Rider Masters”.
Other local riders will be competing after their return from the Rio Olympics. These include Marlborough-based Jock Paget, who suffered the ill-fortune of having to be replaced in the New Zealand team after his horse was injured at his Rio stable. He will be riding Angus Blue.
Jonelle PriceLeaving their Mildenhall base for Scotland will be New Zealand Olympic team members Tim Price (with Xavier Faer - a ten-year-old known in the yard as Hugo) and Jonelle Price (with Cloud Dancer - a nine-year-old known as Marley and a dressage specialist.) Jonelle is currently in fifth place - and took third place in the Bramham ERM round.
New for 2016, the Event Rider Masters is being run over six CIC three star eventing competitions held at venues across Great Britain with a total of £350,000 in prize money on offer during the series - including that £30,000 bonus for the series' leading rider.
This year's ERM finale will be held at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials on September 10 & 11.
This weekend’s ERM competition can be viewed for free live on Saturday (dressage) and Sunday when the competition culminates with the show jumping and cross-country phases ran in reverse order. The ERM's free streaming can be viewed online from anywhere in the world.
Andrew Nicholson at Barbury - July 2015New Zealand eventer Andrew Nicholson, who is based at Lockeridge, has issued a statement about his progress after surgery following a fall at Gatcombe Park's Festival of British Eventing on August 9.
Nicholson says that he is "extremely fortunate" not have suffered paralysis from the injury to his neck. He says he will not be riding again this season.
This is his statement in full: "I am very pleased to be back at home and wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone myself for their kind messages and support which have meant a lot to me and my family.
In terms of my injury I realise I have been incredibly lucky.
My surgeon, Mr Jeremy Reynolds, told me that the injury I sustained to my neck would have caused paralysis at the time of injury, in 98% of cases. I was extremely fortunate this did not happen.
I underwent an eight hour operation where they repaired the fractures and stabilised my cervical spine. This procedure in itself was not without risk, and I cannot thank enough, the team of spinal surgeons at the John Radcliffe hospital, for what they have done.
Obviously I won't be riding again this season as it will take some time to fully recover. Whilst I have to take things easy, I am up and about and fully mobile, and look forward to getting back to full fitness in due course.
Thank you in advance for allowing my family and I some privacy and time to rest and recover.”
Riding Cillnabradden Evo, Nicholson fell at the very last fence on the cross-country course. Cillnabradden Evo was not injured in the fall
Nicholson had already withdrawn his two top horses Avebury and Nereo, from the cross-country phase of Gatcombe's British Open Championship. They were both entered for the prestigious Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 3-6.)
It was hoped that Nicholson and Avebury would win the Burghley CCI 4* title for a fourth successive year - topping his four wins in a row at the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials CCI 3* event.
Jonelle Price & Faerie Dianimo at Barbury 2013Les Etoiles de Pau, the season’s final four-star eventing competition (October 23-26), was won by the German rider Ingrid Klimke on Horseware Hale Bob. They took joint first place in the dressage and first place in the cross country, and despite four faults, held on in the show jumping to win by a clear 6.2 points.
Mildenhall-based Jonelle Price kept the New Zealand flag flying – and local hopes very much alive - to finish fourth in the overall placings. With her nine-year-old grey mare Faerie Dianimo, she was in eleventh place after the dressage, in sixth place after the cross country – and went on to take the season-topping fourth place.
Jonelle Price (copyright Libby law Photography)Mrs Price was one of only three riders with a clear round and no time penalties in the final show jumping stage.
After her fourth place at the World Equestrian Games this summer in France, she must be keener still to get into the top three placings.
“It was about giving her a good trip, and if we were competitive, then that was a bonus,” said Price of the feisty little grey who is owned by Trisha Rickards and Jacky Green. “To be able to do both was super.”
She’s confident it is just the start of an exciting future for Faerie Dianimo.
“The cross country was quite strong,” said Price. “It was tough from start to finish, and at 12 minutes was the longest one we have had all year. The questions came thick and fast, with problems right throughout. It was a true four star out there.”
“We had one moment in the showjumping. If ever she is in doubt, she goes sky high – which is what she did. She always gives it everything..”
Price says while the nine-year-old horse is dainty, unique and beautiful to look at, she is “a little fighter”.
“She keeps me on my toes and is relentless. She loves what she does and is bloody good at it! She is incredibly talented – give her another 12 or 24 months and she could be really special.”
For Price and her husband Tim, the result at Pau caps off their best-ever year: “It’s been a combination of everything coming together . . . horsepower, training, belief and a bit of luck to carry you across the line.”
It was a bleak day for the British contenders. William Fox-Pitt on Parklane Hawk was in joint first place with Klimke in the dressage. And on his second entry Seacookie TSF (last year’s winning pair) was in fifth place.
However, Fox-Pitt retired Seacookie TSF during the cross-country and withdrew Parklane Hawk before he started the course. He blamed the hard ground.
The highest placed British pair was Nicola Wilson with One Two Many - finishing in eighth place.
The final results saw Germany's Abdreas Dibowski in second place and France's Arnaud Boitteau third. In fifth place was Ireland's Joseph Murphy on Sportsfield Othello who had been in fourth place after the cross-country, but had twelve faults in the show jumping. Murphy had worse luck still on Electric Cruise - they were in second position after the cross-country, but were eliminated at the horse inspection before the show jumping.